The Calm Before the Storm

Hello! So yes, it’s been a little while since one of my stories has greeted you in your inbox/Facebook feed – whichever way you follow me. But I do have good reasons for that. Okay, I have reasons, good or not. Without going all “I’ve been so busy” on you (and getting into how many Downton Abbey back-episodes I watched in a very short time – we’ll just say I’m caught up), let’s skip right on over to what HAS been going on that’s adventure-worthy. Because it’s fall and Halloween is gone like the last M&M staring at you in the bowl, and we all know what happens after that: The Holidays. Crazy Season. Everyone’s Hair on Fire. So while I have a moment, here’s a little recap of the last few weeks, from road trips to a lobster in my living room.

First, I’m still Nooming and am shocked to find myself in a pair of jeans I was about to donate for having gone unworn so long. All hail the Noom! If anyone wants to know more, give me a nudge, I’m happy to talk.

Second, I got to go camping in Mississippi with a couple of friends the day after our temps dropped from 79 degrees to 39 degrees between lunch and bedtime. Meaning, of course, that I’d packed for the trip in summer and arrived at the campsite in winter. I haven’t camped since moving here from Oregon. There, I used to go a couple of times a year, in an old pop-up camper whose circuit board was fried and water tanks remained virginally empty – so, basically, it was a big tent. This time we had REAL LIGHTS – electric ones!! – and a TOILET and a COFFEE MAKER and no reaching into icy water to get your beer (or spiked seltzer) out of a cooler because, well, ELECTRICITY. It was so cool. I’m not joking. McGraw got to go too, of course, and hang out with his sassy friend Shelby, who looks like a tiny mischievous version of him and thinks we’re cool beans. McGraw has a thing for bossy girl dogs, if you know what I mean.

Shelby says, “Talk to the booty.”

We spent our first day walking around the Peter Anderson Pottery Festival in downtown Ocean Springs. Yes, there’s pottery, but there’s big chunks of driftwood painted into wall hangings, shops just for your dog, stained glass, jewelry, hand-painted rugs, fresh hot kettle corn, every kind of beachy-decor item you’ve ever dreamt of, giant cinnamon rolls, live music, racks of clothing, hand-carved wooden toys… every excuse to get your holiday shopping done, and then some. Mac and Shelby were lucky to ride around in Shelby’s stroller because the crowds were like Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Well, on a Mississippi scale. Later that night, we were so wiped out we scavenged dinner at Winn Dixie and ate in in our pajamas and blankets in the trailer, over a game of Yahtzee!

Third, I chopped off my locks. Yep, my appointment was for a trim, which is all I ever do because I like my ancient (I prefer to think of it as “timeless”) ‘do and also because I’m afraid to try all the styles that look so good on other people who aren’t me. But, instead of keeping that appointment, with my same hairstylist I’ve been going to for years, I canceled the day before and called a new place (not as brutal as you might think, since my regular girl dished out the last straw for me by last-minute-needing to reschedule AGAIN, and I decided I’d had it, enough). I found a place much closer to me who could get me in the next day (not a good sign, I realize). Told them I needed a trim. And then I showed up and said to the girl, “Hello, I don’t know you, or how well you do your job, but chop off my hair please, and oh by the way I’m super picky about my hairstyle.” And she did. Oh, the adrenaline. And it looks amazing, if I do say so myself. I love it when a risk works out. Who needs bungee-jumping when you can just go and get a new haircut, is what I say.

My new angled bob!

Fourth. I almost feel guilty saying this one. I have no idea why except that I almost feel too lucky to breathe. I’m going back to the Caribbean. Like, really soon. No, not the US Virgin Islands trip I leave for the day after Thanksgiving. That one’s been planned for a while now. I’m talking about a place I’ve been twice this year, where they practically know my name when I walk onto the snorkel boat and take my fruity drink from the same guy who later hands out flippers and masks. I’m talking about a place where the trade winds make you hold your floppy hat on your head with one hand even as you clutch a drink in your other, where Tuesday night means great live music and dancing over the water. Yes, I’m talking about Aruba. But it’s not my fault this time! I promise! It’s a friend who wants to go, so she asked my sister, and she asked me, and well. I couldn’t say no. Of course, you realize this. So we’ve been digging and planning and plotting and that’s always an adventure of its own, and now we have it all tied up in a bow to go in January. Woohoo!

Oh warm turquoise liquid, how I miss thee

Let’s see, what else…? Oh yes, after four years of living here again, I finally went to explore historic downtown Pensacola. I went with my sister to meet her boys/my nephews for Gallery Night, which is held one Friday each month. Streets are closed off to traffic, and filled with live music, local artists, a bevy of food trucks, restaurants with their front doors flung open and tables spilling onto the sidewalks, and crowds of people and their dogs wandering through taking it all in. Such a cool experience! We started with drinks at O’Riley’s Irish Pub, carried refills up the street to The Swinery for some dinner, and then stopped one last time for drinks at Old Hickory Whiskey Bar. It’s all lit up for the Holidays so it was a beautiful and appropriately chilly night to go.

Then we have the early-51st-birthday celebration with my lovely friends, who really know how to make a girl feel special! We did dinner and drinks at my favorite local restaurant, which was all freshly decorated for the holidays and sparkling with cheer, and topped it off with some chocolate mousse cake (shared, of course). What a warm welcome to the upcoming year of ferocity!

Seventh (who’s counting?) I promised you a lobster in my living room. Here he is.